More about Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele
The airport is small, so you...
The airport is small, so you will need to fly to either Honolulu or Maui before catching a smaller plane to Lanai. You could sail over on a sailboat, but that would be entirely on your own.
The hotels provide free shuttles to and from the airports, and to and from the Koele Lodge and Manele Bay Hotel. The only time this wouldn't work for you is if you're not staying at one of these resorts.
There are few rental cars available, and they cost a lot (<$100 a day). There's also no place to drive around and see, so you might as well just go to the resort and stay there.
We flew to Lanai on a...
We flew to Lanai on a commercial plane. Since the airport is small, most planes are small prop planes, although the smaller jets are capable of landing. The airport is nothing more than a concrete floored open air building.
Our hosts picked us up at the airport, but told us that there were few car rentals available, and they ran about $100 a day. The resorts provide free shuttles to people staying at their hotels.
We toured the Koele Lodge first, then the Manele Bay Hotel. If you get the chance, take a tour of these facilities from a hotel person. They give you a good insight on how and why the hotels were designed a certain way, and they tell you about some of the amenities, such as the suite for $2400 a night that comes with its own butler. It was interesting to see a city where a type of feudalism still exists. The company that owns the hotels also owns 94% of the island. The workers are former pineapple field workers who were retrained to work in the hotels when pineapple cultivation was phased out in favor of tourism. There is a sense of 'reverence' for the management of the company, although I think it is mostly a cautiousness borne of the fear of losing your job in a one employer town. I don't know if this is a 'fond' memory or not, but it is interesting, especially if you take time to talk with some of the locals as well as the management.
I can only reiterate what previous reviewers have said before me; the Lodge at Koele is an amazing place, and we are already looking forward to our return. The quality of the Lodge's grounds can only be eclipsed by the friendliness and attention of its staff. We ate at both the formal dining room, the terrace dining area, the afternoon tea room, and the "Blue Ginger," in town. Food here is rather expensive, but we have not had anything like it before or since. A+. When we return, I imagine we'll be eating a bit more at less expensive places off property, such as "Blue Ginger," which was also excellent.
Be sure to check out some of the local art galleries, and if you're from the islands, the Kama`aina discount cannot be beat anywhere else! GO HERE!!
Nobody has reviewed Lanai lately, so here is my opinion from a trip during the first weekend of November, 2005.
My wife and I stayed at the Lodge on a weekend excursion from Honolulu. This is a truly amazing, unique place that we have decided is one of the best places we have ever visited. We also recently stayed at the FS in Maui, and we decided the "perfect" honeymoon or romantic trip to Hawaii would involve a brief stay on Maui and a ferry ride to Lanai for the bulk of the trip. Keep in mind that the Lodge is at an elevation of 1300 or so Ft and is cooler with no direct beach access. You have privledges at the Manele Bay FS for beach/pool activites, but the overall feel of your trip will be more like a brisk fall day in the Northeast US (still 70+ degrees though!) Here are the highlights, point by point:
1)Rooms: It is true that the lodge has not been enhanced lately, and the place is a little bit worn; however, the rooms are large with nice bathrooms and large balconies. The TV, phone, and alarm clock are all old, but the room feels more distinctive than outdated. We felt like we were staying at a rich uncle's house rather than a hotel. The beds were awesome. You can hear a lot from other rooms as there is little sound insulation currently. This will be addressed with the upcoming 2006 refurbishing that FS has planned. People have complained of bugs, but we had no problems with this.
2)Lobby: Beautiful and rustic. It really feels like a hunting lodge. You can take drinks from the bar wherever you want and the lobby is a perfect place to relax. Even though the hotel was full, it felt like we owned the place.
3)Check-In: Amazing, seemless. You don't actually wait at the front desk. They greet you, give you pineapple juice and cool towels, and then they sit down with you on a couch in the lobby and go over the details, give you a tour, and then take you to your room where your luggage that you haven't seen since the airport is already waiting for you!
4)Grounds: This part of the hotel really cannot be explained fully. The gardens and grounds around the hotel are enchantingly beautiful, quiet, full of wild-life and painstakingly manicured. Even if you stay at Manele, you should spend a day just walking around this place. The executive putting green is like a mini-golf course but without the astroturf. We took a horse-back ride (expensive at $85 per person for 2 hour ride!) and had amazing views of the ocean, Maui and Molokai. The golf course is really fun yet serene.
5)Dining: We ate at the dining room and terrace. The dining room was really good. Complimentary appertif and appetizer. Great service with tasty souffle for dessert. Again, a common theme here is EXPENSIVE. Average wine list.
6)Service: The people of Lanai seem truly to appreciate the tourist industry. They are genuinely friendly, and they seem happy to talk with guests. Some of the polish that you find at the Maui FS has not yet made its way to Manele or the Lodge, but that is overcome by the sincerity of the people of Lanai.
7)Pool: Nothing beats the pool experience at the Maui FS. The lodge has a token pool, and it is often too cool to jump in despite the fact that it is "heated". The two jacuzzi's are great and are open all night so you can go out whenever you want.
8)Lanai City: Cheaper food can be found here, but this stop is good for about 1/2 day max. You want to come to Lanai to relax, swim, hike, play golf, snorkel and relax again. You don't come here to shop or for the nightlife.
I hope no more development takes place in Lanai. It has the feel of Virgin Gorda in the BVI, and you are truly away from it all. Unlike Maui, you aren't greeted by a Kmart, Home Depot, Krispy Kreme and Harley dealership when you leave the airport. There are no billboards. If you can afford to come here, then you can't afford to miss it.
We have already booked our next trip to Lanai.
Wonderful, relaxing visit
For my wife's 50th birthday we did the opposite of the last reviewer. We flew into Lanai first for 5 nites and then took the ferry to Maui for 6 nites at the Maui 4Seasons. What a great way to start the trip. We had the unlimited golf package which allowed play at both courses. The mountain course was our favorite. The check-in as described is delightful and so easy after a long trip. I thought the food was excellent and prices typical resort. We had breakfast included in our package. Henry Clay's in town is a good bet for one nite. We realized we had been playing 27 holes of golf daily and hadn't seen the island. We asked the concierge to arrange a tour. Garrett picked us up in his suburban and was extremely friendly and proud of his home. Well worth the $50/hr. You can drive your own jeep around but his stories of growing up on the island and taking you off path to find the petroglyphs certainly adds to the experience. 3 hrs with Garret-$150, Jeep for the day-$140, not being the couple with their jeep axle deep in the sand near Shipwreck Beach-priceless. The 4Seasons already runs Manele and will be taking over the Lodge soon. I sincerely hope they do nothing to destroy the feel of this resort. True, you have to share a sink and stand in the tub to take a shower, but the country manor feel of the Lodge is worth saving. Having experienced the 4Seasons commitment to service I think they will pull it off. We shall return without a doubt.
Loved the Lodge
This is a truely amazing place. It is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. The rooms are perfect with lovely views. This is the most relaxing place. The staff at the Lodge were very attentive. The grounds are perfect done. A weekend was truely not enough.
A perfect getaway from Maui
When I was planning my trip to Maui, I wanted to see another island, someplace where we could go to simply relax and do nothing else. One major caveat was that I didn’t want to have to get to that island by plane, because dealing with an airport would negate any sense of relaxation I achieved on the island. So I was introduced to the island of Lanai. It seemed like a fantastic place, and then I found the Lodge at Koele and was immediately interested in it. It represents a getaway not only from Maui, but from the typical Hawaiian beach experience.
We noticed that the service was top notch as soon as we got off the ferry, representatives from the Lodge greeted us and wisked away our bags, only to be reunited with them when we were comfortably checked into our room. As we departed from the shuttle at the Lodge, the service continued, we were leid and led into the Great Room where we were presented with fresh pineapple juice and asked to take a seat wherever we pleased. We were greeted by an extremely cordial attendant that checked us in and then showed on a fantastic tour of the Lodge. They have activities here that you would never think of doing near the beach, but when relaxing they made a lot of sense- a game room filled with backgammon, 3 croquet fields and a perfectly manicured 18 hole miniature golf course.
The Lodge is set up high in the mountains of Lanai, so is a little bit cooler than the other big resort on the island, but the Lodge is MUCH more convenient if you wish to go into downtown to eat or shop., which I would recommend to both, there is some good local food there. There is no air conditioning, but it isn’t really required as it dips into the 60’s at night and is perfectly comfortable. The rooms are nice with some nice touches, such as the window seat and good sized balcony, although the bathrooms could use a bit of an update. The hotel though is glorious- I have never been at a place where I could be completely content to do nothing. All of the rooms (library, game, bar and music rooms) all have a distinct character to them, and they were all decorated tastefully for the holidays. We enjoyed afternoon tea greatly in the music room, the tea was excellent and the scones and cookies were delicious. All in all, the Lodge was very comfortable and was not stuffy at all, but on the other hand, at a simple request the staff would bend over backwards for you.
As for eating at the Lodge, it is quite funny- this hotel is a little over 100 rooms and yet they manage to have three excellent restaurants within its midst. The formal dining room is the top tier, and jacket is required, so remember that if you wish to eat there. Then there is the Terrace that provides a more casual dining experience but excellent food. Finally, there is the bar that provides pub fare for lunch and dinner and is surprisingly reasonable. And that doesn’t even include the golf clubhouse 200 yards away. Its amazing the variety they packed in such a space. I would recommend going local at least one of the nights- I read good things about the Blue Ginger but was a little unimpressed with its appearance, I would recommend the restaurant in the Hotel Lanai- it was FANTASTIC. I would also highly recommend the Terrace for breakfast- it was better than our dinner there, no small feat in and of itself.
And now back to that service. To say it is top notch would be an understatement. My wife had the unfortunate luck of getting bitten by a centipede while we were staying at another hotel on Maui, and we didn’t realize the severity of the bite until we were at the Lodge. The staff reacted with precision and proceeded to get us an appointment at the local medical clinic and drove us down there. Upon our arrival back at our room, there was a fresh plate of food in our room along with a hand written note from one of the managers checking in on my wife. From that point on we received phone calls and personal visits from managers checking on her condition. They took care of her every need and saw that she recovered comfortably. To be honest, that is the memory I will cherish most from our stay there- the way in which they took care of my wife- it was as though she was the hotels’ child and they were looking after her.
Our stay at the Lodge was a perfect getaway from our rather hectic activities in Maui. On Lanai and at the Lodge, the amount of things available to you is almost limitless. You can go snorkeling or to the beach or to any of the restaurants at the other resort on the island, or you can do as we did and simply be content with the surroundings provided to you- they do not disappoint. Whether it wandering the gardens, of playing some miniature golf, watching the sun set over the pastures in the front or relaxing in front of a fire while playing backgammon, the Lodge provides you everything and nothing all the same. That aspect, backed with a service staff that all others will have to measure up to make the Lodge at Koele an unusual setting for a Hawaiian hotel, but absolutely perfect to everyone who is lucky enough to call it home, if just for a couple of days.
Speed Up the Transition
I have stayed at the Lodge at Koele at least 5 times in the past 10 years. I'm sorry to say that this is the only time that I didn't feel it was worth the price. The Four Seasons has recently taken over management of the property. When I booked the reservation (back in August) I was informed that the property was going to be renovated. I was told to check back a few weeks before my arrival and I would be updated on the state of the renovation and if I wished, I could move down to Manele Bay. I called and was told that the renovation had not begun. Although the hotel was barely occupied, I was put in a standard room (even though I informed the property that it was my 10th Anniversary at the time of booking). I also learned that there was a $25.00 fee for "airport shuttle" which was placed "discreetly" on my bill. The airport consists of one gate, and there is no other way to get to the Lodge other than the "airport shuttle". When a guest is paying $450+ per night, you would think that the "airport shuttle" would be complimentary. (It was complimentary when I was there four years ago.) I also had my sport coat pressed for dinner in the formal dining room. The collar was pressed incorrectly and the bottom of the collar was about 1/2 inch from the jacket. The charge for the pressing was taken off of my bill, but something like that just never would have happened four years ago. I recognized many of the same faces from my previous visits, but the newer faces, the Four Seasons management just aren't as sincere as the previous managment staff. The General Manager explained to us that the renovation was coming soon and consisted of adding air conditioning and heating to all of the rooms, and a general "face lift". There are plans for a new, very large, Wellness Center on the property, and some "bungalows" that I never really understood if they were private residences, or additional hotel space. The bottom line is that the re-branding of the hotel and the renovations need to happen very soon. The property seems to be in limbo, and the staff seems scared because they don't know if the property will be completely, or partially shut down, or for how long. My advice would be to stay away until the renovations are complete and the re-branding to the Four Seasons is complete.
I had a chance to get a guided tour of Lanai from the company that owns the island. We toured both the Koele Lodge Resort (located at the center of the island) and the Manele Bay Resort (located on the southeast shore). It was fun seeing how the "other side" gets to live.
THE PINEAPPLE ISLAND
The four Seasons Lodge at Koele. The perfect place to celebrate that special occasion.
"The Grounds at Koele"
The resort situated at 1,600 feet in the highlands nestled in a setting of Norfolk and Cook Pine trees, has beautiful grounds with exotic flora, ponds, and fountains.
"Lanai Old Plantation Homes"
Painted in bright jewel like colors of blues yellows and greens Plantation houses remain much the same as they were built in 1922 when the Dole Company purchased the island and started the largest pineapple plantation in the world.
Lanai city is a short twenty-minute walk from the resort. Downtown Lanai consists of about two blocks of small shops and businesses surrounding Dole Park; our favorite is the funky Dis and Dat Store.
"Four Seasons Manele Bay Resort"
The Four Seasons at Manele Bay is situated at Manele Bay perched above the Pacific Ocean. There is a complimentary shuttle that runs every 30 minutes between the two resorts at Koele and Manele Bay.
The less expensive Lanai City Hotel is also served by the complimentary shuttle that ply between the two Four Seasons Hotel.
Camping sites are available at Manele Bay/Hulopo’e Beach Park. Camping permits are $20 plus a $5.00 per person per night fee. Visitors can camp for a maximum of three nights and Hawaii residents can camp for a maximum of five. For camping permits, call Castle & Cooke Resorts Facilities Department in advance, at 808-565-3982.